Tehran, Oct 16: Iran has dismissed speculations that India had pulled out of the 7.4-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, saying New Delhi was waiting for restoration of political stability in Pakistan.
Iran"s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said at a weekly press briefing here that India had officially announced that it was waiting for the outcome of Pakistan"s elections.
“India has declared that the expert delegations of the two countries will discuss the gas transit fee," Hosseini said.
The Tehran Times quoted Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora as saying that India was waiting for the “political climate in Pakistan to settle down" before initiating talks with that country on the transit fee for the proposed gas pipeline project.
The report said that India had informed, much in advance, both Pakistan and Iran about its intention of not participating in the trilateral talks in Tehran from September 24 to 26.
“Much should not be read into the non-participation of India. We are very much in close touch with our counterparts in Iran and Pakistan," a senior official said.
Deora said India was committed to being part of the peace pipeline, and negotiations on the trilateral agreement were expected to take off by the end of month.
“During my visit to Iran, everybody was keen on India"s participation and we are looking forward for that to happen," he said.
Pakistan"s Petroleum Secretary Farrakh Qayyum told Iranian Oil Ministry's news agency PIN that his country was making effort to encourage India to return to the peace pipeline project.
“We have called on India to attend the talks on peace pipeline," he said, adding that India had announced that some problems should be settled, expressing hope to rejoin the project.
“We, too, are hopeful that they (India) will participate in the project," Qayyum added.
Meanwhile, Iran and Pakistan are set to finalise the gas contract by Friday or Saturday.
Iranian oil minister"s envoy for peace pipeline talks Hojattollah Ghanimifard was quoted as saying that the two sides would discuss technical issues by next Thursday, and the two states" Presidents were to set a date for the signing of the contract.
Under the trilateral contract, Iran will export 60 million cubic meters of gas to Pakistan and India each per day.